Amber Zone - Comet Busters
Date: Sun, 4 Aug 2002 22:06:47 EDT
Subject: [TML] adventure
Traveller Adventure: Comet Busters
For referees only. If you intend to play this adventure, quit reading now and direct your game referee to this page.
The adventurers must have their own ship with a cargo space of at least 3 tons, and vacc suits for all adventurers plus three. If the vacc suits prove to be a major problem then let the players find extra vacc suits in the local starport repair shop. The adventure team must have at least one person with engineering skill, preferably two, and at least one with mechanical skill.
The adventurers have the only ship presently in-system at xxxx. While technically backward the world is sufficiently advanced to have astronomical interests. Recently a large new comet has been detected, and calculations have just shown that it will collide with xxxx in less than two days. xxxx's government will send a pair of generals and a squad of troops by helicopter to request the ship's captain to come with them to a nearby military base where he will meet xxxx's supreme leader. This leader will inform the captain of the situation his planet faces, and will (firmly) ask him to take on board several nuclear weapons and a nuclear weapons team and to deliver them to the comet, where they hope to to break it up. Should the captain or the other adventurers prove less than altruistic the government will offer the following as incentives: land holdings planetside, 1 million credits, large business-oriented interest-free loans, and lifetime tax- and duty-free status, for each adventurer. This is the "Hero of xxxx" monetary award, and has been awarded by this planet only a few dozen times in its history.
Should the adventurers demand further payments the government will agree to anything while the crisis is pending, but will then defer payment authorization to the proper bureaucracy, which will deny any payment greater than that listed above. "This is not constitutionally authorized etc."
The nukes are primitive and bulky, and will require manual detonation. Any member of the weapons team will volunteer as necessary to make the devices work.
All payment agreements will be with the government chief executive, and will be verbal. Any payments made will be on mission accomplishment, not before.
The general population will not be notified of the impending catastrophe.
If the adventurers' captain agrees to this mission he will be immediately
helicoptered back to his vessel, along with several generals, a squad of
soldiers, and three wooden-crated nuclear devices. The cases have simple
manual control panels on the outside, with connector jacks and hand-held
pushbutton actuators. They are escorted by a weapons team, two young
lieutenants and a tough-looking sergeant who are volunteering to deliver
these devices and detonate them. On arrival at the ship the nukes will be
loaded into the cargo space immediately and the adventurers will be asked to
begin their mission without delay since time is short. If the adventurers
insist on inspecting the cargo before it is loaded aboard they will be
permitted to do so. If there are not enough vacc suits then someone should
bring up this issue now, and a frantic general search should ensue.
Maneuvering to the Comet
The weapons team will have sidearms and combat knives, both visible and
concealed, as a matter of policy. "We can't allow transportation of nuclear
weapons without an armed escort. Would you?" Their mission is to blow up
the comet, and they'll do anything to accomplish that. If their sidearms are
demanded of them while aboard ship they will comply immediately but
reluctantly, handing over their visible pistols. If pressed they will then
give up their visible knives. If the concealed weapons are located and
confiscated then the team will begin quietly noting common gear that can be
used as weapons in an emergency, such as fire extinguishers, pliers,
wrenches, and the like. Each lieutenant has brawling skill 2 while the
sergeant has brawling skill 3, meaning they will be formidable hand-to-hand
opponents. The team will make no attempt to stand guard directly over the
nuclear devices but rather will stick together at all times, believing they
have a better chance against any treachery if they work as a unit.
The approach will take about 20 hours and will be uneventful. Most free time
will be spent helping the weapons team learn how to use the ship's vacc suits
and how to function in a zero gravity environment, which skills they will
need in order to move the weapons on the comet's surface. Also all three
weapons team members will express great interest in learning how the ship
flies through space, making comments such as "I always wanted to be a pilot,
but I never thought I'd fly in outer space" and "I hope my world learns to do
this some day". All will ask to sit in the pilot's seat and maneuver the
vessel at least once. Both officers, if engaged in coversations, will show
pictures of their families. If asked about his family the much older
sergeant will only comment that he is not sentimental. If pressed he will
simply insist on concentrating on the mission: "I want to go over the vacc
suit again. Please show me how to deal with an air leak."
If there is any serious confrontation between the adventurers and the weapons
team then the weapons team will make absolutely every effort to get the
mission back on track.
On arrival at the comet the weapons team will gather on the bridge with the
adventurers to see what they're up against. The arrival will be very rough.
The comet will be surrounded by debris, some of it capable of damaging the
ship, bubbling up in the turbulent atmosphere boiling off of the comet's
surface and escaping into space. Visibility to the surface will be poor.
Intelligent adventurers, in the face of this obvious hull-breach hazard, will
go to general quarters, all hands donning vacc suits and depressurizing major
spaces. If the adventurers have not yet thought to ask then the weapons team
will now inform them that they need to find a crack or depression in the
comet large enough to allow manual insertion of the weapons and deep enough
that a weapon detonation there will cause the comet to pop apart, thus
diverting the majority of the comet mass around the inhabited planet in a
large ring and minimizing the size of the pieces that do hit the planet.
At some point during the approach the sergeant (or a lieutenant) will either
locate and retrieve the team's firearms without the adventurers' knowledge or
he will find some suitable substitute such as a rivet gun or emergency flare
launcher. Whatever he finds he will put it in his vacc suit outer pocket.
In a few hours the comet will be too close to xxxx for the nuclear detonation
to have any effect on its chances of hitting the planet. A short search will
immediately discover two likely-looking canyons. One will be easily and
safely approached, but may not be deep enough. The other is definitely deep
enough, but will be dangerous to approach. If the ship lands near the first
canyon it will immediately be obvious that the canyon is not deep enough and
that the second canyon must be attempted. There is no time to look for a
third canyon, but if the adventurers insist on trying then they will have to
maneuver through debris that might damage their ship. For each turn spent
looking roll two six-sized dice and add the pilot's skill; if 8 or higher
(8+) then the ship's pilot successfully avoids the debris, otherwise the ship
will be hit by a rock that causes a hull breach. On approaching the second
canyon roll 10+, plus pilot skill, to avoid a minor crash landing that will
require continuous work by all engineers to fix before a takeoff can be
attempted, and roll 10+, plus pilot skill, to avoid a collision with debris
that will cause a minor hull breach in a primary living space. If all ship's
engineers work to repair the damage, roll 6+, +1 for every engineer working
on the problem, +1 for every 15 minutes of work that has passed, every 15
minutes, to repair the hull breach, and roll 15+, plus mechanical skill of
the senior engineer working on the problem, +1 for every other engineer
working on the problem, +1 for every 15 minutes of work that has passed,
every 15 minutes, to repair the crash landing damage. The engineers can work
on only one job at a time, and the ship can easily maneuver even with the
hull breach, so presumably the adventurers will seek to repair the crash
landing damage first.
On A Refusal
If for some reason the adventurers refuse to procede and try to abandon the
mission then the weapons team will draw any weapons they can, imprison the
adventurers in a stateroom, and attempt to land the ship near the comet's
deepest canyon. They will crash-land, automatically doing double the damage
specified above. The adventurers may, of course, attempt to resist this
On The Surface
When the ship lands, whether gracefully or not, the weapons team will
immediately begin manhandling the nuclear devices out of the ship's cargo
bay. Two of them will only be able to move one weapon at a time, while one
remains in the cargo bay door with weapons left there while others are being
moved. All of them, having little zero gravity experience, will have to work
slowly to make any progress. They will request assistance from the
adventurers (one lieutenant will release the adventurers, if they were
hijacked, and then immediately go back outside), with assurances that the
adventurers will not have to remain behind to detonate the bombs and that
they will have time to get away.
Before (if) any adventurers move out to assist the weapons team a patch of
high-speed debris will strike the soldiers, puncturing their suits. The two
lieutenants will die, while the sergeant will succeed in emergency patching
his suit but be seriously wounded. The weapons and the ship will will be
undamaged. If no adventurers are moving out to assist the weapons team, or
if they retreat, the sergeant will again request assistance, stating that he
himself is unable to continue.
If the adventurers refuse to help then the sergeant will arm the weapons and
threaten to detonate them immediately if the adventurers do not complete the
job. If the adventurers still refuse to assist, he will do so. The
detonation will be successful and save the planet entirely on 10+, else save
it but with great damage on 8+. The ship and adventurers will be destroyed.
The adventurers will be unable, because of terrain and angle, to bring any
ship's weapons to bear against the sergeant without first lifting off and
gaining altitude from the comet, which action will be immediately visible to
If the adventurers assist involuntarily then the sergeant will supervise them
with the recovered gun in one hand and the pushbutton actuator in the other.
The referee will have to adjudicate further action. If the adventurers
succeed in placing the weapons to the sergeant's satisfaction he will dismiss
them, giving them a time limit to get away before he manually detonates the
nukes. If the adventurers assist voluntarily the sergeant will be unable to
help move the nukes but he will be able to supervise weapon placement.
Time pressure will be very high. The mission is fast approaching a point
where it will be too late for the planned detonation to affect the comet's
impact on the planet. The sergeant will be fully aware of that time, having
marked it on his watch, and he will goad the adventurers as necessary to
hurry. If that point is reached before the weapons are fully placed then he
will detonate the weapons immediately regardless of any other consideration.
If the detonation time is getting very close and it looks as if the weapons
will not be fully placed he will stop goading the adventurers so as to keep
them calm and working until the last possible minute. While moving the
weapons under this time pressure each adventurer must at some point roll 12+
once, plus dexterity stat, to avoid injury due to haste in handling large
objects in close quarters in zero gravity. Injuries will be pinched limbs.
For each injury roll again with 12+ indicating a serious injury leaving the
adventurer unable to contribute any further effort towards moving the
If the engineers finish repairs then they may quickly join the effort to move
the nukes down the canyon.
As the adventurers are moving the weapons to the bottom of the canyon, their
vacc suit headlamps shining in the darkness, all will notice right away that
there are strange shapes frozen into the glass- clear ice in both canyon
walls. It soon becomes apparent that the shapes are several non-humanoid
aliens, some artifacts, and what appears to be a ship. The aliens strongly
resemble praying manti and are a little smaller than human-size. They wear
straps carrying various items of gear, but no clothing. The ends of their
"arms" have manipulatory organs with multiple opposing digits. The ship
appears to be about two hundred tons or so. The tail section is not in view,
and no guess as to the propulsion system can be made. The artifacts are
scattered about in the ice near the aliens and near the surface.
After the sergeant recovers from his own amazement he will continue to insist
on weapon placement. When this is finished he will dismiss the adventurers
while he remains behind to initiate the detonation. If the adventurers have
fully cooperated with the supreme leader and the weapons team from the very
beginning and have otherwise been efficient then they will have enough time
to attempt to recover artifacts from out of the ice, should they choose to
try. They will be able to reach up to two items per adventurer present, for
up to a total of nine items, before time pressure forces them to abandon
further excavation and to head for the surface to escape the planned
detonation. If they must choose between objects then the adventurers can
from select the following: three iridium- colored hollow tubes 1" diameter
6" long, two palm-sized saucer-shaped metal disks ringed with buttons, two
plain silver balls 2" in diameter, about half of an alien's head, and one
entire alien arm. If the players ask if they can take pictures then remind
them that their vacc suits incorporate videocams and that they can fully
record, in high definition digital format, all that they see as they work.
As the adventurers return to their ship any repair crew should have had six
chances to repair the ship should they have needed to do so. If the ship is
not yet repaired and the adventurers have been efficient in their use of time
then they should have two more chances to repair the damage and resume flight
without having to worry about blast from the nukes. If a final roll is
necessary (and successful) before flight is possible then the adventurers
will escape but their vessel will likely take serious damage from fragments
of the blasted comet (repeat the damage and repair possibilities listed
earlier in Landing). If damaged, the ship must be repaired in two hours or
it will burn up in the planet's atmosphere. If the vessel is still on the
surface of the comet when detonation takes place then the ship will
automatically take all damage listed in Landing (no roll) and again must be
repaired in two hours or burn up in the planet's atmosphere. In addition to
this, each crew member must roll less than or equal to both his strength stat
and dexterity stat or be injured sufficiently to be unable to participate in
any repair effort.
Manti Body Parts
If the adventure team acted in a timely manner and did not engage in
excessive delays then the planet will suffer only minor damage from pieces of
the destroyed comet, and the adventure team will be paid to the limit
If, however, the adventure team failed to perform
expeditiously then upon their return they will find that large pieces of the
comet have impacted the planet. Overall damage to the planet's biosphere and
human population will be moderate and temporary. Damage to the government,
however, will be fatal -- the capital city, governing center, and starport
will have been destroyed by a nearby strike. All who knew of the adventure
team's involvement in trying to stop the comet, including the supreme leader
and senior military officers, as well as all who knew of any payment
arrangements made with the adventurers, will have been killed in the impact.
If they press their case and an investigation is launched they will have
little evidence of their role in this matter. Astronomers will report that
they did in fact notify the government of the impending collision, but they
will have no knowledge of what action the supreme leader took regarding this
information. Surviving witnesses may report that an off-world ship did
arrive recently at the starport near the capitol, and then leave shortly
before the comet fragments impacted, but none of them will have any idea who
it was or where this ship went after departing. The nuclear scientists will
say they received valid orders to hastily assemble the devices and turn them
over to the military weapons team, but they have no idea where the weapons
went after that. If the adventurers made video records of their activities
then the remaining governmental organs may be persuaded that the adventurers
did in fact contribute to the partial saving of xxxx -- provided, of course,
that these records show the adventurers cooperating with the weapons team and
not needing to be coerced into taking action.
If the adventurers failed to deliver the weapons at all then the planet xxxx
will be severely traumatized by the comet's full impact, with tremendous
damage to the population and the biosphere.
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